ABC hosted Emmy voters early this month at Walt Disney Studios for a series of star-studded panels and bottomless buffets at its annual ABC FYC Day. The event showcased seven programs for hundreds of Television Academy members ahead of Emmy nominations voting, culminating in a three-song concert before a happy-hour reception.
“The Conners” were first on stage at 11:30 a.m. in the main theater. Voters and their plus-ones filled all 419 seats, forcing a standby line across the Burbank, California lot. Clips from various episodes interspersed throughout the half-hour panel served to invigorate discussion. The “Grey’s Anatomy” panel that followed took a different approach by zeroing in on the consent-themed “Silent All These Years” episode, even bringing one-off guest star Khalilah Joi on stage in lieu of any of the regular cast. It was a weighty panel that elicited tears and respect from audience members who had not seen the show since its seasons were still in the single digits.
An hour into the day, it was time for an hour-long break in the form of a self-served lunch at the corner of Dopey Drive and Mickey Avenue outside the auditorium. “Black-ish” took the stage after lunch for the liveliest panel of the day, making for a welcome change of pace after the panels for “The Conners” and “Grey’s Anatomy” had stressed their social importance. Anthony Anderson playfully interrupted his co-stars with zingers and led them in spontaneous freestyle songs, making the moderator both over-prepared with questions to motivate discussion and under-prepared with organic segues. It was a riot; half of the attendees decided to go out on a high, bolting for the exits as soon as the moderator announced that the “Black-ish” panel was over and the “Dancing with the Stars” panel was next.
After a panel for “A Million Little Things” that teased details of its second season, Anthony Anderson returned to the stage with the likes of television icons Norman Lear and Marla Gibbs, as well as Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, to reflect on recreating classic episodes of “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons” last month. Because it was a late addition to the event lineup, “Live in Front of a Studio Audience” was the de facto headliner for the day, complete with two outdoor activations and take-home freebies for attendees. Panelists remarked on the timelessness — and thus, timeliness — of the source material, with Anderson extending Lear’s unmatched television contribution to the very existence of “black-ish.” The actors varied in their treatment of absent peers, continually expressing amazement at Woody Harrelson‘s professionalism, while goosing Jamie Foxx for flubbing a line during the live taping of the special.
“American Idol” wrapped things up with a conversation with Ryan Seacrest, then performances by the winner and runner-up of the most recent cycle, with the latter commenting on the randomness of his appearance at the event and the former even more awkward when speaking to the audience. Having endured two and a half hours of panels and performances since lunch, it was time for attendees to vacate the auditorium once again (and for good this time), as the tables on Dopey Drive and Mickey Avenue had been topped with a whole new spread. And it would not have been a For Four Consideration event without an open bar.
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